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by Sally Shuttleworth , mother of Emily (6yrs) and Elliot (4yrs) highly values the support and advice of other mothers, since her mom died when Emily was 7 months old.  Sally co-owns  a company which manufactures and imports high quality baby/toddler products called Dizzy Dots. Visit their website here

You are not alone if you dread dinner time in your household. This is in addition to the general mayhem of trying to prevent the dog from getting the best bits (he knows just where to sit!), to trying to keep the bowl upright on the table.

Toddlers are meant to be picky eaters! Developmentally, they need less food in year 2 as their growth slows down. Sitting down for a meal requires focused attention that even some adults struggle with. They have woken up to the fact that they can make decisions, and have learned the word “no”.

Use creative tactics, and if you have a child that doesn’t eat very much, then every bite counts. Eating a bag of chips will affect how much he eats of the good stuff. Secondly, giving in to your child when you would rather he had eaten an apple, gives him the message that he can push you each time. So, he just says “no” to every healthy alternative until he finally gets what he wants.

Some ideas:

Credit: rattleandmum.co.za

Credit: rattleandmum.co.za

  1. Dipping: Toddlers love to feed themselves. Put a selection of sauces into little colourful containers and dipping foods (chicken fingers, sausages, roasted butternut, halved tomatoes, eggs etc) and play a dipping game.

2. Drawing pictures: Use a plastic table cloth and allow your toddler to use his yogurt as paint whilst you spoon food into his mouth.

3. Change the environment : Avoid the high chair by taking a toy truck into the garden and get your toddler to drive it to each depot, loading a meatball at each point.

4. Reduce the juice : If you are giving your child juice with his or her meal, then cut it back. In fact, get rid of the sippy, non-spill cups with teats at mealtimes and stick to an open cup. The motion of drinking properly will also help strengthen your child’s jaw for chewing and speech development.

5 Your child won’t starve himself : If you say “no” to the one thing he wants to eat (like ice-cream) & move on to bath time, it won’t take him long to work out that if he doesn’t eat it, he doesn’t get fed.

6. Expect the unexpected : Toddlers need between 1,000 and 1,300 (good) calories a day, but they won’t eat this in evenly spread chunks. Aim for a nutritionally-balanced week, not a balanced day.

7. Offer a nibble tray: Put bit-sized portions of colourful food, such as thinly sliced apple or halved grapes, avocado pieces, carrot swords, cheese building blocks, egg canoes etc. so he can snack regularly. When a toddler doesn’t eat for long periods, it messes up his sugar levels and makes him grumpy, resulting in bad behaviour.

8. Loading: Putting nutritious, familiar favourites on top of new and less-desirable foods like building blocks is a way to broaden what he will eat.

9. Drink it: Blend a smoothie so he gets the nutrients without realizing it.

10 Respect tiny tummies : A young child’s stomach is the the size of his fist. So dole out small portions at first and refill on request.

11. Child-sized tables: Children are likely to sit and eat longer at a child-size table and chair where their feet touch the ground.

12. Let them cook: Children are more likely to eat their own creations, so, when appropriate, let your child help prepare the food.

The most important thing is to RELAX. A healthy and happy attitude towards mealtimes is so important. Take the stress away, and you may be surprised at how easy and fun it all becomes.

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